Thursday, December 6, 2012

Saturday is my last opportunity to complete my CANADIANAGAMA  before the winter weather sets in.  I am looking for volunteers to help place 12 tons of refractory on the remaining structure.  The is not for the fain of heart and I am warning you that the work is very difficult.  I have no idea what is driving this work over the past month and I welcome any assistance you may be able to offer during daylight hours on Saturday December 8th.  Your work will not go unrewarded by the kiln gods, I am sure that they will smile upon you in years to come.


Michael (Half man/ half beaver)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Bronze Installation Inspired By Idea: 'Look Up, Look Down, Look All Around'

At the new South Branch Library in the Argentine district in Kansas City, Kan., nine 700-pound bronze panels flank the entrance, some with images of vertical stacks of library books.
Artist Michael Wickerson says he drew on the theme, "Look Up, Look Down, Look All Around," a nod to children's author, Dr. Seuss, and a line from his book, Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!: “Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try.”
As part of our series, “Artists in their Own Words,” Wickerson, also the chair of sculpture at the Kansas City Art Institute, talked outside the library about the project. He was assisted by two KCAI students, Keyan Alemifar and Lizzy Olson.
Interview Highlights
Working inside and outside: "We have a nice shop up at school (Art Institute) inside. Outside, you have to trust the elements...
"You wanted to pour while you were still in shadow. My students would be critical for about a 15-minute window of getting that metal out and pouring 100-pound plates, horizontal, in cold molds...and we did not have one miscast."
On working with students: "I have a real interest in putting people on major projects, investing in that, and having others learn from that process."
Family stories in a bronze panel: "My mother recognized her father's right-angle tool, which I used directly in the casting. So I can see my grandfather in it. My kids can see me within it."
Making public art accessible: "That really is where I'd like to take the public commissions, that they don't forget the three-year-old's eyes and points of view of it."
Wickerson's nine-panel bronze installation is located at the Kansas City, Kansas Public Library's South Branch, 3104 Strong Avenue, Kansas City, Kan.
The "Artists in their Own Words" series is supported by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

      Snow Moon Flower
Sincere words are not beautiful.
Beautiful words are not sincere.

The good aren't persuasive.     
The persuasive aren't good.     

The wise are not academic.     
The academic are not wise. ......

Lao Tzu  (570-490.B.C. China)      

Friday, November 2, 2012


Monday, October 29, 2012

Iron Pour, Harvest Moon

Special thanks to my midnight crew. - Michael

Thursday, October 11, 2012

ThursdayOctober 112012
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Artist creates distinguished look in bronze sculptures for new library

Artists Michael Wickerson, left, and Robin Case were at an artists' reception Wednesday evening at the new South Branch Library, 31st and Strong, Kansas City, Kan. Wickerson created the bronze sculptures at the new library, while Case worked on art just inside the entryway. (Staff photo)
An artist's reception for Michael Wickerson, who created the bronze panels on the exterior of the new South Branch Library, 31st and Strong, was held Wednesday evening at the new library. 
   When artist Michael Wickerson created the nine bronze panels that make the new South Branch Library in Kansas City, Kan., look distinguished, he tried to capture the essence of the search for knowledge that the library represents.
   An artist’s reception is planned from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10, at the South Branch Library, 3104 Strong, Kansas City, Kan. Another artist who worked on the library, Robin Case, also will be recognized at the reception, along with artists from the Mattie Rhodes Art Center, whose works are currently on display at the library.
   Working with library officials, staff, architects, construction consultants and community leaders, including Sally Murguia, Wickerson developed the concept for the bronze panels.
   An associate professor and chair of the sculpture department at the Kansas City Art Institute, Wickerson also was able to turn the bronze sculpture project into a teaching opportunity for some art institute students.
   Two art institute students, Keyan Alemifar and Lizzy Olson, took directed study during the summer to assist with the project. Wickerson said the work was done at the art institute’s foundry. Because of the extreme summer heat, he and the students would begin work at 6 a.m. and finish by 8 a.m. some days. Besides receiving training and a wage, the students also received a stipend for artistic merit, Wickerson said.
   “It was a real learning experience for the students,” he said.
   Nine exterior panels at the new library are low-relief bronze sculptures, he said. The bronze castings show stacks of books, ascending to knowledge.  They also show practicing and gaining skills, as well as developing abilities. Also portrayed is the ability of the mind to understand concepts, a different way of seeing and thinking.
   Wickerson also worked on interior bronze panels, including tributes to donors that are displayed inside the library. The nine exterior panels were estimated to weigh about 700 pounds, while the interior panels weighed about 300 pounds, he said.
   The bronze panels had the theme, “Look Up, Look Down, Look All Around.” Wickerson quoted from Dr. Seuss, “Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try.” 
   Wickerson, who lives near Wyandotte County Lake in Kansas City, Kan., has an art studio there, Wickerson Studios, with his wife, who designs Internet websites. Their studio website is Originally from Canada, Wickerson said he was grateful that his parents came from Canada to visit during September, attend the library opening, and help out with the children while he was completing the bronze sculptures.
   Wickerson said he enjoyed doing this art project for the Kansas side of the Kansas City area. He hopes the library can help be a catalyst for the Argentine area.
   He said his goal is to make more bronze castings in the Kansas City area in the future.
   The artist’s reception Oct. 10 at the new library is open to the public.
Robin Case created this art inside the new South Branch Library at 31st and Strong, Kansas City, Kan. (Staff photo)

Friday, September 28, 2012

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Posted on Wed, Sep. 26, 2012 12:00 AM

Argentine residents ready to unveil a new library

Argentine residents raised $2 million for building that opens this morning.

Adult services librarian Laurel Beekman was among those preparing the South Branch Library on Tuesday for its opening at 11 a.m. today at 3104 Strong Ave. in the Argentine district of Kansas City, Kan.
Adult services librarian Laurel Beekman was among those preparing the South Branch Library on Tuesday for its opening at 11 a.m. today at 3104 Strong Ave. in the Argentine district of Kansas City, Kan.
Andrew Carnegie transformed a Kansas City, Kan., neighborhood when he donated the money to build the Argentine Library in 1917.
Some 95 years later, Argentine community members are paying it forward to the next generation.
The South Branch Library, which officially opens today on Strong Avenue, will be celebrated as a learning resource and treasured as a building that Argentine residents helped build penny by penny, leaders say.
Nearly $2 million of the $6 million building effort was raised by residents who collected loose change, washed cars, wrote grants and met weekly to come up with new ideas. It all came together during one of the worst economic times in modern history.
The financial situation made the library seem more important by the day to the longtime Argentine residents.
“There has been a library in this neighborhood since 1917, and it has provided a resource,” said volunteer Sally Murguia. “It was important for those who grew up here to see that tradition continue in a way that is appropriate for the 21st century.”
The old library wasn’t meeting modern needs.
For starters, the grand staircase — a symbol of how learning could elevate — had instead become an imposing barrier for the disabled. The stairs seemed especially cruel given the large retirement community just blocks away.
The building also was difficult to wire for technology, and the small layout made it hard to adapt to modern conveniences that users demand from libraries.
There was little space for computers, and the lines of people waiting to use them often stretched four or five deep.
The library that Carnegie built would have cost millions more to update or expand.
So a small group of volunteers — made up mostly of Murguia and her husband, Ramon; Janey Humphries; and Victor L. and Delia Hernandez — began meeting every Saturday morning. They were joined by many along the way.
There was never a lack of enthusiasm, Sally Murguia said.
“All we can do is try,” she said. “You just have to step out in faith sometimes on a project.”
They kept at it for years. Each week they’d come up with new ideas for grants and donations.
The Kansas City, Kan., School District, which operates the KCK library system, agreed to pay the rest of the library cost if residents could raise $1.5 million to $2 million. The board checked in regularly to hear about progress.
Pennies were collected at area schools. Middle school students pitched in dollar bills in exchange for a jeans day. Neighborhood kids held a car wash. Some residents gave $5. Others threw in thousands.
When the group had taken in about $500,000, the school board bought an old grocery store at 3104 Strong Ave. and started demolition.
The news spread rapidly along Strong Avenue.
There was no turning back.
Years later, the library is opening for business just blocks from the old building at 2800 Metropolitan Ave. The school district plans to repurpose that two-story building but has no immediate plans.
The library is growing from 7,000 square feet to 21,000. The old library had 22 computers; the new building will have 22 laptops alone, plus 20 desktop computers for children and 24 more for adults. Nook e-book readers will be available for checkout.
Inside, library director Carol Levers spread her arms wide to express her excitement.
“It’s a dream come true for the community,” said Levers, who once worked as the Argentine branch manager and helped to raise money.
Her Argentine staff has never had offices or a reading area for young adults.
The library was renamed South Branch to reflect the area beyond Argentine that it serves.
Just as the Carnegie library’s neoclassical architecture represented its era, the South Branch library stands squarely in the modern day.
The simple box architecture was easy on the pocketbook in a time of financial stress. But inside the open space is filled with light from massive windows. The space isn’t flashy, but its functional and practical design should make it user-friendly. Artwork inside and out adds a playful and creative feel.
“The old (library) reflects its time. The new one reflects its time,” said branch manager Jack Granath.
The collection is bigger and easier to browse. There are several meeting and study rooms. Half of the space is dedicated to children’s books and programming. The crown jewel is a large children’s activity space designed for story time and other programs, Granath said.
The library is all on one level, making it accessible to all, including the retirement community directly behind the new building.
KCK school board President Gloria Willis said she’s already heard from several excited senior citizens.
“They can’t wait. They cannot wait because they are saying, ‘We can walk to the library,’ ” she said. “ ‘We don’t have to worry about climbing steps.’ ”
The volunteers, who are about $200,000 shy of the $2 million goal, will be there for the scheduled 11 a.m. ribbon cutting to dedicate the building. They will be celebrating as well and hoping that the building stimulates redevelopment elsewhere in Argentine.
“We feel like it’s really important because many of our neighbors here have limited transportation and the library is a window on the world,” Murguia said. “It’s a place to apply for jobs. It’s a place to teach computer skills. It’s a place for students to have homework resources.
“There’s so many ways that this facility can support the success of everybody who lives here.”
To reach Dawn Bormann, call 816-234-7704 or send email to
Posted on Wed, Sep. 26, 2012 12:00 AM